This month’s issue of Vanity Fair is a must-read for comedy fans. Guest edited by Judd Apatow, it’s filled cover-to-cover with funny, from Louis C.K. to Chris Rock to Garry Shandling and the proverbial “and many more.”
Of special interest is a spread entitled Who’s Afraid of Nichols and May?
If you’re not familiar with auteur Mike Nichols and his genius creative partner Elaine May, this article traces their history as the first celebrity improvisers. Starting out with The Compass Players directed by Paul Sills, they quickly took the world by storm.
Their process of using improv to create great sketches is the genesis for Second City today. Google “Telephone Operator,” “Mother and Son,” and “$65 Funeral” to see how they created great two-person scenes with spare environments and lots of specificity.